Getting flashy: APAC storage market shifts as cloud demand grows

Gartner has indicated that the Asia-Pacific storage market will grow by 5.3 percent this year, driven mainly by organisations who are focused on improving cost efficiencies.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) storage market is expected to grow at a rate of 5.3 percent and reach $4.95 billion by the end of 2015, according to recent research by Gartner.

According to the research firm, China is the fastest growing storage market, and is forecast to grow at a rate of 11.7 percent during the year, followed by Indonesia, which is expected to grow at a rate of 8.2 percent, and Singapore at 4.4 percent. Meanwhile, India is likely to grow at 2.1 percent. Australia, on the other hand, is predicted to drop and experience a negative growth of 5 percent this year.

Gartner research director Aman Munglani warned that when examining the Asia-Pacific storage market, it is so diversified that it cannot be examined as one large market. However, he highlighted that there is one common factor that all the APAC organisations -- both small to medium and enterprises -- share: A focus on improving cost efficiencies.

As a result, he said many organisations are turning to flash -- an alternative to hard disk storage that has increasingly become affordable and more efficient to run -- and software-defined storage as businesses shift their infrastructure into the cloud.

"Things are looking fairly flashy at this point, because most organisations today across APAC are spending a significant amount of money on all-flash array, and are looking at hybrid storage with hybrid flash arrays," Munglani said.

Munglani added that flash is the primary reason why the Australian market is seeing a significant drop in storage growth, noting that as the country leads in the adoption of integrated systems such as hyper-converged infrastructure and the move to cloud, their reliance on storage infrastructure reduces. He said that Australia and New Zealand are two countries where cloud adoption has been most prominent in the region.

"Flash systems and software-defined are big, massive areas of investments in Australia and New Zealand," he said.

Despite the shift in demand by businesses, EMC, HP, and Huawei continue to hold a majority share of the global storage market, Munglani said. He cited that this is not expected to change too much, even if the market is becoming more competitive and customers' willingness to partner with unknown vendors is increasing.

"Across the APAC region, there are emerging vendors that have come up with some transforming strategies. They seem to be doing a fairly OK job, and are trying to take on the likes of EMC and HP, but whether they're likely to become like them in the next few years -- unlikely.

"But as an overall category, they are increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with, and they will have an impact in terms of end-user strategy and efficiency," he said.

In fact, based on recent IDC findings, EMC continued to lead with a 22.2 percent market share during the last quarter of the 2014 financial year. However, during the company's first-quarter revenue results, EMC reported that its storage revenue fell "a bit short", but blamed it on geopolitical factors in China and Russia, execution issues, and currency fluctuations.

It continued to still beat HP, which has been working on providing scalability and affordability to its storage customers. Last year, the company launched its 3PAR StoreServe 7450 all-flash storage array, claiming it will cost below $2 per usable gigabyte.

While the storage market continues to be a race of who can squeeze the most amount of data into the same storage form factor, companies such as Samsung are predicting that the next phase of flash storage will be in three-dimensional NAND flash memory, where cells are stacked vertically to improve density levels. In March, Samsung was said to have inked a deal to produce its 3D NAND solid state drives for Google's datacentres.

Others that have started to dip their toes into this type of technology include Intel and Micron.

Munglani believes while NAND flash memory is still in its infancy, there is potential of seeing the storage market head that way.

"Yes, the innovation is headed in that direction, but it's still very early days. But in terms of direction, that is where it is headed," he said.

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